Mandela says Libya to put an end to Lockerbie issue
Libya-Saudi Arabia-South Africa, Politics, 3/19/1999
South African President Nelson Mandela is visiting Libya for talks with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi on the trial of two Libyan suspects in the 1988 bombing of a PanAm jetliner and has reported that real progress has been made.
South Africa and Saudi Arabia have in recent months contributed to bridging differences over the terms of handing over the two suspects.
The Libyan leader said earlier this month that he has more faith in Mandela's assurances than in the U.N. Security Council.
"King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and myself have given full support to our brother leader Moammar Gadhafi," Mandela said in a brief speech to the hundreds of people gathered outside Gadhafi's residential compound.
This comes as the L.A. Times (Los Angeles) daily reported today that Mandela told Libyan politicians that Libya has decided to give a firm date for handing over the suspects in the Lockerbie incident, adding that the date would be specified in a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. is expected to address the Libyan parliament, the Congress of People, this Friday.
Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, is also in Libya for the Lockerbie talks.
Earlier Thursday, Mandela predicted in Stockholm that his trip to Libya would pay off. "It is good to be an optimist. I am sure he (Gadhafi) is going to play ball."
U.N. sanctions, aimed at forcing Libya to hand over the suspects, prohibit international flights to and from Libya, but an exception was made for Mandela. He flew in with the U.N. sanctions committee's approval, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said in New York.
Libya has in principle accepted a U.S.-British proposal that the suspects be tried before Scottish judges in the Netherlands. But Libya opposes the idea that the men, if convicted, should be jailed in Scotland. It also wants assurances that they won't be kidnapped by U.S. or British intelligence agents in the Netherlands.
In Cairo, the Arab League on Thursday said it backed the lifting of U.N. sanctions against Libya as well as the country's request for a neutral and fair trial for the two Libyan suspects."The Arab Foreign ministers reaffirmed Libya's legal right to ask for compensation for losses."
"They confirmed its (Libya's) right to insist on a third country neutral court...and the ministers called for arrangements for this to be carried out," said the statement.
Arab League Secretary General Esmat Abdel-Meguid told a news conference that Libya had been cooperating in trying to find a solution to the problem. "These two suspects are being treated as guilty before being proven so," he said.
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